Anyone who knows me knows I hate cooking. It’s one of my least favorite domestic-type activities and if I could have my way I’d never do it. I’d much rather have food that arrives already prepared (if I could have a Star Trek replicator I’d be set). No fuss, no muss, no risk of under-cooking, over-cooking, burning, drying out, etc etc.
I don’t get along with certain kitchen appliances, like the oven, either. Many years ago I tried to bake banana bread. I followed all the directions. After the allotted time had passed, I used a toothpick to test if the bread was ready. The toothpick said it was. So out came the loaf, all lovely golden brown. It looked right. It smelled right. But when I attempted to move it from the baking sheet to a cooling rack, the loaf cracked open like an egg and spilled out its innards. Only the first inch or so of the loaf had baked, and the rest was raw. That lying toothpick…
I was heartbroken, to say the least, because banana bread is pretty awesome and I’d been looking forward to it so much. Granted, I was maybe twelve years old at the time. But Mom had supervised and had no idea why my loaf had failed so hard. In any event, I never baked again.
My relationship with ovens hasn’t improved. The last time I tried using the oven in the home I now live in, I was making chicken breast. Nothing fancy, just run-of-the-mill Shake ’n’ Bake chicken breast. It seemed that no matter how long I left it in (hours), it never quite got past that nearly-done-but-still-kinda-raw-rubbery-meat stage. Scratch one meal.
I live alone so I eat more or less like a stereotypical bachelor: if I can’t fry it in a pan, toast it in the toaster oven, or zap it in the microwave, then I go out or I don’t eat. Since I’m also one of those people who doesn’t notice when four or five hours have gone by when I’m working on something, more often than not I end up skipping meals altogether.
Yep, not very healthy. But since I hate cooking, what’s a girl to do? Well, in the last six months or so I’ve been looking for middle-ground solutions that won’t drive me insane, be too costly, or push me too far outside my comfort zone while still being healthier than what I have been doing.
This brings me to the Crock-Pot. Five years ago when my grandmother died, one of the things I inherited was a small (I think it’s about 2.5QT) crock-pot. Just the pot, no instructions or recipe books. I never bothered with it much: I made sweet ’n’ sour chicken in it once, but for the most part I’ve been too nervous to leave it on when I’m not here because the electrical wiring in my house isn’t fantastic and I’m deathly afraid of setting the place on fire. (The fact the fridge and my various aquariums are plugged in and running 24/7 was totally beside the point in my brain. Crock-pot = cooking = risk of fire and that’s all there was to it!)
Anyway, recently I guess I got over the crock-pot fear because I started wanting to use it. It seemed like a viable alternative to the cooking problem. Add food, turn it on, go to work, come home, eat. Sounds great! My problem then became that I didn’t know what to use it for. Stew is basically at the bottom of the list of things I like to eat and it seemed to me that stew and soup were more or less all a crock-pot was good for.
This Christmas, Mom got me Crock-Pot Favorite Slow Cooker Recipes and boy were my eyes opened! This nifty little book includes recipes for things like “Hot Broccoli Cheese Dip”, “Gratin Potatoes with Asagio Cheese”, “Chai Tea”, “Banana Nut Bread”, and, as the title of the entry indicates, “Teriyaki Chicken Wings”! I had no idea crock-pots could be used for stuff like this!
Teriyaki Chicken Wings is the first recipe I’ve tried. It was relatively quick to do: two hours on high. The recipe called for soy sauce, honey, hoisin sauce, orange juice, garlic, and optional chili pepper. It also called for cooking sherry…which is a kind of wine, and I’m allergic to wine. But, given the small amount (¼ cup for about four pounds of wings) I figured I’d try it.
I reduced the recipe by a third since I didn’t need to cook four pounds of wings all at once. But in the end I think this was too much. The wings I bought were pretty big so they didn’t really get covered in sauce all that much.
To go with it, I steamed some asparagus and mashed baby potatoes (red, yellow, and blue ones). My meal looked like this:
So, the chicken wasn’t coated too well but what I did taste, I liked! In my recipe I skipped the orange juice (didn’t have any) and I substituted a smidge of cayenne pepper for chili pepper. I’m allergic to cayenne as well but as none of my allergies are severe, I figure a little exposure now and again might actually help me. I didn’t notice much of a reaction to having it or the sherry in the sauce…but since most of the sauce was on the bottom wing…
Anyway, steaming asparagus on the stove in a frying pan was also a first for me. I managed to not overdo it, so they were very good! All in all, not bad, and I have three chicken wings left over that I can reheat for lunch. Maybe there’s hope for me yet. :3
I think my next crock-pot attempt will be a dip, such as the broccoli one or artichoke and nacho cheese.